Media and government PR initiatives highlight the role of the state in thwarting human trafficking operations. But relatively little attention is directed at private investigators, even though they also make substantial contributions to combating the crime.
The United Nations estimates that there are somewhere between 20 and 40 million people in modern slavery today. Around 71 percent of the enslaved population are girls and women. Yet, despite the scale of the problem, authorities only identify 0.04 percent of survivors globally. Thus, there is a tremendous need for private investigators to assist in finding solutions and bringing perpetrators to justice.
We tend to think of slavery as something firmly in the past – a blight on the human conscience that died with abolition in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, opportunities to enslave people still operate in the modern world. And in communities with poor law enforcement oversight, it continues to be a problem. Estimates suggest that more than 50,000 people – mostly from Mexico and the Philippines – enter slavery in the US every year.
Many people hire private investigators when they want to investigate the situation of a person in their community, or they suspect slave rings might be operating in their area. Investigations like these should be the job of local law enforcement authorities, but often they don’t have the time to research every case. Therefore, the responsibility falls on private individuals to hire professionals to assist state officials and other organizations – such as anti-slavery NGOs – to combat the problem and create a safer world for all.
Private investigators use a variety of tools to help solve human trafficking cases. The most common is surveillance. Local law enforcement doesn’t have the time required to diligently collect information on suspects and victims’ comings and goings. But private investigators do. They offer surveillance across a range of venues that typically form the nexus of trafficking operations. Gas stations, motels, parking lots, and high-risk communities where trafficking is common are targets on their list. Once they identify potential victims, private investigators will begin taking steps to rescue them while minimizing danger.
Private investigators can also do things like issue summons to a suspected victim’s place of work. Bringing a victim into the justice system is an excellent way to get to the bottom of their legal situation and current working conditions. Often the victims of human trafficking have to do work against their will, without proper payment.
Private investigators also use their guile and common sense when identifying people who might be victims of a trafficking operation. Marks on the body (including brands), bruises, and other physical injuries are all external signs that a person could be in the throes of slavery. Body language can be an indication, too, with many victims unable to do things like maintain eye contact.
Members of the community who suspect human trafficking can, therefore, hire private investigators. Certified Human Trafficking investigators have proven efficacy and proficiency in conducting investigations.